The New Democrats at The New Republic Enter the New Economy They don't like it any better than U.S. steelworkers did https://t.co/7xrP7z4jgQ
— Billmon (@billmon1) December 5, 2014
Shorter Sully on TNR and race: “Say what you will, we had the courage to debate if black people were stupid.” pic.twitter.com/ng9iWFXUzo
— Jamelle Bouie (@jbouie) December 5, 2014
Full disclosure: I currently have a subscription to The New Republic, because I was offered a loss-leader price, and I wanted unmetered / print access to writers like Alec MacGillis, John Judis, and Julia Ioffe. I’ve had TNR subs, on and off, going back to the mid-80s — their Bush I parodies were a comfort during the first Gulf War — which I cancelled whenever the latest editorial team did something particularly, egregiously terrible: the Bell Curve dishonesty, or Michael Kelly going off the rails, or giving Tony Snow a platform. The magazine’s always been a vanity project, but it’s also published a lot of great writing. So I’ve treated it like a grocery chain — when they have enough brands I like, TNR gets my business; when the latest crew of MBAs dump “my” products and reconfigure all the aisles, I switch to a different chain.
Now MacGillis and Judis and Ioffe have jumped ship, at least temporarily:
… The narrative you’re going to see Chris and Guy put out there is that I and the rest of my colleagues who quit today were dinosaurs, who think that the Internet is scary and that Buzzfeed is a slur. Don’t believe them. The staff at TNR has always been faithful to the magazine’s founding mission to experiment, and nowhere have I been so encouraged to do so. There was no opposition in the editorial ranks to expanding TNR’s web presence, to innovating digitally. Many were even board for going monthly. We’re not afraid of change. We have always embraced it.
As for the health of long-form journalism, well, the pieces that often did the best online were the deeply reported, carefully edited and fact-checked, and beautifully written. Those were the pieces that got the most clicks…
Dave Weigel has a smart take on “How #Disruption Broke The New Republic”:
… Hughes was destined to accrue more media coverage than the average owner or editor. He was a young, married, gay tycoon, and there hadn’t been many of those. He’d been credited with some of President Barack Obama’s 2008 campaign web success—a victory that claimed a thousand fathers—so he was an easy target for anyone who wanted to bemoan the magazine’s swing away from publishing pieces liberals hated. (Some held up well. Some, like the Iraq War advocacy and Bell Curve excerpt, less well. And then there was the endorsement of Joe Lieberman for president …)…
Foer and Hughes’s new magazine mixed TNR‘s typical intellectual interests with a certain glossy grandiosity, a sometimes clashing mixture. What exactly the new New Republic was supposed to be, and who it was for in this new era, was often hard to figure. And there were other bumps. Not long after the launch, TNR parted with columnist Tim Noah and ended the cryptically titled TRB column. That offended devotees of the magazine and friends of Noah. (He’s a former colleague and mentor, not that any of this piece is his fault.) Noah dished to Politico‘s Dylan Byers that, after Hughes’s objection to a punchy headline, he “quietly worried whether the magazine’s new owner (who around that time also told an audience at the Kennedy School that he’d like to co-brand a chain of cafes called the New Republic) might be a young man with more money than sense.”
It sounded bad, but the self-exiled staffers—and there are dozens of them—now remember a time of good cheer and great stories. And such there were. The Hughes/Foer era saw the paper break into China coverage via Beijing-based reporter Christopher Beam, whose first cover story was optioned for a movie. Russian-fluent reporter Julia Ioffe published newsy profiles on the right, then reported and corralled some of the web’s sharpest coverage of Vladimir Putin’s medal-winning, country-invading 2014. Noam Scheiber’s 2013 cover story on Elizabeth Warren helped shape the next year’s coverage of the invisible Democratic primary. Alec MacGillis wrote deeply-reported political profiles that accidentally broke open new stories. Jason Zengerle, one of the young reporters who left the magazine in the cutback era, was hired back to write big swing stories like a look at how black voters had been rendered irrelevant in the new South…
Washington was always skeptical that Chris Hughes could “save” the New Republic. In the end, Washington was right, for the wrong reasons. At some point Hughes just stopped believing that the traditional policy magazine was worth saving.
Watching the path of Omidyar's First Look and Chris Hughes’ TNR makes you appreciate what an excellent job Jeff Bezos is doing with the Post
— Ezra Klein (@ezraklein) December 5, 2014
And a final, gleeful kicking from some guy on the internet…
The New Republic was never anything but a warmongering racist antileft trashpile and I hope the whole enterprise burns to the ground and if you are nostalgic about it you’re nostalgic for The Bell Curve, the war on Iraq, and Marty Peretz’s Muslim Hating Neo-Fascist Jamboree. The whole enterprise was corrupt right down to its colonialist bones and if some Facebook billionaire wants to turn it into Tinder For Politico Jagbags it could not possibly suffer in comparison. Shedding tears for Leon Wiseltier’s job is like worrying about what became of Stalin’s cat. I only pray for the day that your twisted obsession with Village bric-a-brac is performed by the unpaid interns that are the inevitable future of Big Media, which will be celebrated by you neoliberal clowns right up until some 17 year old earning nothing but 3 $9,000-a-credit-hour credits literally unplugs the keyboard from your workstation. Tell Stephen Glass I said hey and shut out the lights on your way out.